We traveled to Gjirokaster from Berat via furgon. Unlike Tirana, there is an actual bus station in Berat. We took a Berat city bus to the bus station and then were able to take a furgon that left Berat at 2 pm. The ride was long because of bad roads and mountain passes, but we passed through some beautiful scenery.
We arrived in the newer part of town of Gjirokaster around 6. There is not really a bus station, but all the furgons arrive at and leave from the same gas station on the main road.
Where We Stayed
Babameto House – We were asked whether we wanted a taxi when we got off the bus, but we elected to walk to our accommodation. It was a looong walk up a steep hill (into the Old Town part). There were times on the walk where we wished that we had taken that taxi. Babameto House is actually an old and wonderful Ottoman-style house. It has several dorm rooms and beautiful Turkish-style lounge rooms. We were lucky because we paid for a dorm but instead got a large 3 bed room all to ourselves. The only downside was that the walls were quite thin and there were barking dogs that kept us up both nights. =/
What We Did
Gjirokaster Castle – Our accommodation was actually located very near to the castle, which is situated atop the hill and is a semi-large fortress. In contrast to the Berat castle, no one lives within its walls anymore. It offered sweeping views of the valley, an eerie collection of old tanks from WWII, and even a tomb of Bektashi, the founder of the Bektashi sect. It also had an old US Air Force jet that was shot down during communism that was just there, ready to play on. It was nice to spend time in the castle where we didn’t see a lot of other tourists. There was also a museum of more old armory which we did not choose to visit.
Walk around the Old Town – There is a small Old Town with a special market-y area called the “Neck of the Bazaar” which we enjoyed walking through. We also had received a map of the town from our hostel which had a couple of sites to see. The map didn’t have a lot of information other than the names of the sites, but we enjoyed walking around and trying to find them. The Old Town area is built into the side of the hill, so it was fun to feel like you were walking on top of the houses down the hill. The roofs of the houses were also very interesting: many were made of thick stone shingles.
Where We Ate
Kujtimi – This restaurant was recommended by both Lonely Planet and the woman at our hostel so we knew we had to try it. Like much of the food that we have had in Albania it was plentiful, yummy, and very affordable!